Category: Book Reviews

Book Reviews

A review of The Golden Child by Wendy James

The plot moves fast, the narrative driving the reading towards its final unnerving twist. It all happens almost too quickly. James’ writing is so smooth, and the story so powerfully plotted, that its easy to miss how neatly the shifts are between the individual voices, the many delicate links between cause and effect and the parallels between adults and children as we move from one character to another, the way the reader is unwittingly drawn into the toxic culture of privilege that underpins these characters, or how subtle the thematics.

A review of Secret of Abbott’s Cave by Max Elliot Anderson

Anderson has created a high interest, action packed, easily read, adventure filled chapter book certain to please middle grade readers. While my career spanning nearly 4 decades was spent in the K 1 arena, Secret of Abbott’s Cave is a book I used during the two years I taught Osage County fourth grade in Osage County. It was a book with good appeal for both girls and boys.

A review of A Vicious Example by Michael Aiken

Through the dystopia of styrofoam cups, depleted forests, rotting garbage, and an overabundance of aggressive species – colonists or currawongs, there is still laughter, a sense of hope, and a deep, abiding love for the city. In Aiken’s world, the human is absorbed into nature as just another animal, a predator who will one day be supplanted by another species. Though that may not sound like the prettiest of visions, A Vicious Example presents a collection of great beauty, and intense reflection.

A Howl of Disenchantment: A review of Still Howling by Mary Dezember

For those who saw beneath the veneer of our country’s prosperity, “Howl” was the response of those supposedly mad or insane, observing the interior disintegration of a society enamored of materialism, steeped in religious doctrine but becoming increasing devoid of spiritual direction, still segregated and racist and generally intolerant of sexual honesty. “Howl” helped define a generation that saw beyond America’s inflated sense of progress and supremacy.

A review of Befiddled by Pedro de Alcantara

Befiddled is a forceful read. de Alcantara offers teens who are tormented by feelings of failure or inadequacy a glimpse into the life of another youngster who harbors many of the same worries. Becky worries she will lose remembrance of her deceased father, that she just does not fit in anywhere, and that she is destined to nothing more than failure, blunders and unhappiness.

A review of Still Pilgrim: Poems, by Angela Alaimo O’Donnell

Like the best poetry collections, Still Pilgrim coheres absolutely. It has one theme, expressed in the book’s title and the title of every poem. And it sticks firmly to one form, the sonnet. O’Donnell’s take on the form, though, is like Pope Francis’s approach to pastoral care: merciful and generous and forgiving. Meters range from trimeter to pentameter, some of them tight and sprightly, others elastic, heterometric, even sprung, Hopkins-like. Rhyme schemes are many. Rhyming is tolerant of slants and assonances.

A review of Pain Woman Takes Your Keys by Sonya Huber

I can tell you I only read art. I put down what isn’t. Call it literary or what you must. If it’s not art, my breaths will slow and I’ll out of hopelessness turn to the next thing. That won’t do anything for me. And it can’t be my family because during this time I’m trying to protect them so I act or am grateful they are away for just during this time if this time ends. Sonya’s book is art. Read it.

A review of The Beachcomber’s Wife By Adrian Mitchell

Adrian Mitchell’s exquisite writing captures the essence of the island in such a way that the reader becomes immersed in the life upon it. And within these wonderful descriptions of a tropical paradise it is easy for the reader to be completely captivated by the imagined life of his subject. The author’s words, spoken through the mind of the beachcomber’s wife, draw us in so that we feel her emotions one after the other.

A review of Sunset by Maggie Walsh

Light and hope seems to play like a continual refrain through Maggie Walsh’s Sunset. Though these are poems that reflect the hardship and suffering that Walsh has experienced, they are never dark; never dour. Always there is an appreciation of the natural beauty, and a kind of joyousness that comes from sensation and perception in the face of racism, the grief that goes with being separated from home and family, and of feeling different.